Tuesday, 23 July, 2019

Ahead Of Air India Disinvestment, Govt Looks For Employee Absorption Options

Air India Air India
Patty Aguilar | 16 January, 2018, 05:18

The core airline business comprising Air India and Air India Express-the low-priced overseas arm-will be offered as one company, and the process will be completed by the end of 2018, minister of state for aviation Jayant Sinha said in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday. While the employee unions are expressed opposition for the disinvestment plan, the government allowed the overseas entities to own up to 49 percent stake under the approval route in Air India subject to certain conditions on January 10.

While announcing the plan to permit 49 per cent foreign direct investment in Air India, which brings the airline at par with other domestic carriers and does away with preferential treatment, the government had said, "Substantial ownership and effective control of Air India shall continue to be vested in an Indian national". Their concern was centred around Air India's valuation that may further take a hit if it hives off Air India into two companies and invites bids for its domestic and global operations. "Government must look at all other options before selling off Air India".

However, these talks were still in exploratory stage, a report by Economic Times said.

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As the government is expected to absorb most of the airline's Rs50,000-crore debt, which is the main stumbling block in the divestment process, the airline will be staying afloat on taxpayers' money.

Last week, while tweaking the foreign direct investment norms in India, the government allowed foreign airlines to invest up to 49% in Air India.

Selling Air India to private players will be a major setback to India's image and its desire to play a big role internationally, said CPI National Secretary D Raja. Along with its subsidiaries it has almost 29,000 employees. Singapore Airlines via the Tata Group is also open to bid for Air India.

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